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Non-Traumatic vs. Traumatic Brain Injuries: What’s The Difference?

NeuroThere are two main types of brain injuries: traumatic and non-traumatic. Both can cause damage to the brain and the visual system.

At Advanced Family Eyecare, we know how challenging it can be to live with debilitating visual symptoms caused by brain injuries. This is why we use neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy to treat patients effectively.

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can either be closed (where the skull is not penetrated) or open (where the skull is cracked). Concussions are one type of TBI. 

TBIs are caused by external force on the head. Common causes of TBIs are:

  • Falls where an individual hits their head
  • Physical assaults involving blows to the head 
  • Motor vehicle accidents resulting in a traumatic head injury
  • Sports injuries

What is a Non-Traumatic Brain Injury?

Unlike TBIs, non-traumatic brain injuries are caused by factors within the body. Some examples include:

  • Oxygen deprivation caused by a stroke or heart attack
  • Tumors
  • Near-drowning
  • Infectious diseases affecting the brain, such as meningitis
  • A brain hemorrhage 
  • A brain aneurysm
  • Suffocation or strangulation 

How Do Brain Injuries Impact Vision?

Over half of the brain is responsible for clear and comfortable vision. This is why visual problems often occur when a person suffers any form of brain injury. 

In fact, most traumatic brain injury patients continue to experience vision problems weeks or months after experiencing the injury. For some, it can be years.   

Some common symptoms of vision problems caused by brain injuries include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Headaches and eye pain
  • Visual field loss
  • Eye movement problems 
  • Sensitivity to light 
  • Eye strain and eye fatigue
  • Difficulty reading
  • Visual memory loss
  • Motion sensitivity that can cause dizziness, nausea

Although vision problems aren't usually the primary concern after a brain injury, if they’re left untreated they can result in lifelong visual issues that negatively impact your quality of life.

Neuro-optometry is an effective solution for managing symptoms of vision problems caused by brain injuries.

How Can a Neuro-Optometrist Help?

Neuro-optometry works by stimulating parts of the brain that aren’t working properly, allowing the brain to create new neural connections that foster stronger communication and coordination between the brain and the eyes. It uses therapeutic prisms, lenses, and visual exercises to do this.

If you’ve suffered a brain injury, your neuro-optometrist will evaluate how well your visual system is working. Based on the findings, they will create a personalized treatment plan to reduce or eliminate the deficits and symptoms you’re experiencing.

Neuro-optometry also addresses the vision problems of patients with neurological conditions.  Over time, it helps restore oculomotor, visual, and perceptual functioning.

Have you or someone you know suffered a brain injury that’s resulted in vision problems? Contact Advanced Family Eyecare in Oklahoma City to schedule a functional vision evaluation.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Joana Pantoja and Dr. Samuel C. Oliphant

Q: Does neuro-optometric rehabilitation take a long time?

A: Every case is unique. The amount of time needed will depend on the extent of the patient’s brain injury, vision issues, and goals.

The good news is that even patients who suffered a brain injury months and even years ago can benefit from neuro-optometric rehabilitation.

Q: Does every optometrist offer neuro-optometric rehabilitation?

A: No. This is a specialized field that only post-graduate trainees are able to enter upon receiving their Doctor of Optometry qualifications. This degree includes modules on the neuro-visual system and teaches graduates how to diagnose and treat vision problems caused by brain injuries and other neurological conditions.

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